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Brief Book Brief

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World – By: The 14th Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Douglas Abrams

Audible had a two for one special with limited titles and I was bemoaning the options when the two faces of His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV and the Nobel Laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu appeared. How do you not take a free listen lesson from these two. Turns out I had been stealing from them for years. Actually, I probably stole from someone who stole from someones and someones and someones who eventually led back to these two. Don’t like happiness, tell people to choose a different goal all the time. Same root word as happening, so I’m happy because the world is going the way I want at the moment. If you’re paying attention, that’s not the way the world seems to work. Joy is something different and gives you much more control with some work.

It’s pretty amazing how similar the ideas of two people from such different religions, cultures, experiences, philosophies, etc. turn out to be when working to create a sense of joy as a consistent part of life. It was wave after wave of being challenged to be more better of what I have believed for a long time. Lots to share with those who are suffering too.

Some quotes from the book:

“The more time you spend thinking about yourself, the more suffering you will experience.”

“We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives, and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people. When it comes to personal happiness there is a lot that we as individuals can do.”

“the three factors that seem to have the greatest influence on increasing our happiness are our ability to reframe our situation more positively, our ability to experience gratitude, and our choice to be kind and generous.”

“There are going to be frustrations in life. The question is not: How do I escape? It is: How can I use this as something positive?”

“We are fragile creatures, and it is from this weakness, not despite it, that we discover the possibility of true joy.”

“If you are setting out to be joyful you are not going to end up being joyful. You’re going to find yourself turned in on yourself. It’s like a flower. You open, you blossom, really because of other people. And I think some suffering, maybe even intense suffering, is a necessary ingredient for life, certainly for developing compassion.”

“Discovering more joy does not, I’m sorry to say,” the Archbishop added, as we began our descent, “save us from the inevitability of hardship and heartbreak. In fact, we may cry more easily, but we will laugh more easily, too. Perhaps we are just more alive. Yet as we discover more joy, we can face suffering in a way that ennobles rather than embitters. We have hardship without becoming hard. We have heartbreak without being broken.”

“I say to people that I’m not an optimist, because that, in a sense, is something that depends on feelings more than the actual reality. We feel optimistic, or we feel pessimistic. Now, hope is different in that it is based not on the ephemerality of feelings but on the firm ground of conviction. I believe with a steadfast faith that there can never be a situation that is utterly, totally hopeless. Hope is deeper and very, very close to unshakable. It’s in the pit of your tummy. It’s not in your head. It’s all here,” he said, pointing to his abdomen.

“Despair can come from deep grief, but it can also be a defense against the risks of bitter disappointment and shattering heartbreak. Resignation and cynicism are easier, more self-soothing postures that do not require raw vulnerability and tragic risk of hope. To choose hope is to step firmly forward into the howling wind, baring one’s chest to the elements, knowing that, in time, the storm will pass.”

“It is not happiness that makes us grateful. It is gratefulness that makes us happy. Every moment is a gift.”

“Joy,” as the Archbishop said during the week, “is much bigger than happiness. While happiness is often seen as being dependent on external circumstances, joy is not.”

I have to stop. It’s hard to stop. So much wisdom.

Recommended? Absolutely.

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